Francesco Sparanero in Italy, 1941, Franco Nero became an actor only by
accident when doing a two year national service with future Oscar
winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now - 1979).
But he left acting school in disgust at their methods and managed
to get somes small roles in several now forgotten Italian films.
Everything changed in late 1965 when Nero was cast in the titular role of Sergio Corbucci's Django
(1966), a dark and gritty film that was to define a decade of Spaghetti Westerns and would
stick with Nero for the rest of his career, in quick sucession he starred in Lucio Fulci's Massacre Time (1966) and Ferdinando Baldi's Texas Addio (1966). That same year also saw Franco Nero
noticed by Hollywood, and while on still photography duties on the Italian
lensed John Huston film The Bible
(1966), Nero was hired to play the role of Able, opposite
Richard Harris' Cain, and was soon followed by the key role of Lancelot in
the lavish musical Camelot
(1967), where he met his future partner Vanessa Redgrave. However, with the boom of the Italian film industry at the time,
Nero was irresistably drawn back to Europe and went on to appear in over 35
films in just 8 years, with lead roles in productions by some of the best
directors of the period. Sergio Corbucci, who brought him to fame, cast
him in Spaghetti Westerns The Mercenary (1968) and Companeros(1970), Lucio Fulci cast him in a rare family-friendly film White Fang (1973) and the sequel, while infamous left wing director Damiano Damiani cast Nero in the political thrillers How to Kill a Judge (1974) and Confessions of a Police Captain
(1971), but it was Enzo G. Castellari who proved the biggest Nero fan,
giving him lead roles in 7 productions, including the action thriller Street Law (1973) and last-gasp Spaghetti Western Keoma (1976).
the reduction of Italian cult-cinema in the late 1970s, Nero continued
to work strong, appearing in a wide range of titles including World War
2 actioner Force 10 from Navarone (1978), political thriller The Salamander (1981) and in his most well known role, playing Gen. Ramon Esperanza in Die Hard 2 (1990). He later teamed up again with Enzo G. Castellari to film a tribute to the euro-westerns - Jonathan degli orsi (1993).
In between recording interviews for DVD companies, he has continued to
work in Italian film and television with roles in a very wide range of
productions, many with a historical theme, such as Crusaders (2001 mini-series) and The Uncrowned Heart(2003 - TV).
over 150 films to his credit, Franco Nero is one of the big names in
Euro-cult cinema, although like many actors from the period, he is
likely to be best remembered for his one big Hollywood role, that of Die Hard 2.